As previously speculated, Epic won’t be releasing the Android version of its flagship battle royale title through Google Play Store, the developed announced today. Confirmation of the fact emerged in an interview over at Verge with Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney who explained the decision was made in order to safeguard direct links with players and for financial reasons.
Foregoing Google’s store entirely, Epic will instead distribute Fortnite directly through the company’s own website, where players can grab a purpose built installer to download the game to their devices. The move is fairly unheard of as game distribution in the mobile sphere is dominated by OS giants. Apple is far more stringent in this approach only allowing iOS users to download apps through the App Store. Google’s Android on the other hand allows developers to install apps freely, a policy Epic is taking full advantage of.
Across the many iterations of Fortnite on PC, Mac, and consoles, a relationship between Epic and players unencumbered by digital storefronts is at the center of how the game is accessed and played. In the same vein, Epic’s decision to bypass the Google Store is to safeguard this direct conduit. As Sweeney explains ‘Epic wants to have a direct relationship with our customers on all platforms where that’s possible’.
Though the above reason is all well and good, it does carry with it the stench of justification; a PR move to soften the blow of probably the primary reason for the decision. Through the Play Store, Google pockets a hefty 30% of sales. Epic are eager to avoid having to pass on profit notably because the base version of Fortnite is free-to-play, revenue coming primarily from in-game cosmetic purchases. Epic feels ‘30 percent is disproportionate to the cost of the services these stores perform, such as payment processing, download bandwidth, and customer service’, explains Sweeney.
Overall the decision raises security questions for an app that isn’t vetted by the Play Store, though Epic are adamant existing security measures are robust enough to protect consumers adequately.
There’s still no release date for Fortnite on Android, though rumors are circulating that exclusive early access will be granted to Samsung Galaxy Note 9 owners. As it stands, the Android version will be available worldwide, excluding China, though Epic are figuring out ways to include one of the fastest growing gaming markets in the world.